Pitch vs Tone
Sound and vision are two of the important ways we get to know about the world. In fact, most of our communication with others takes place through spoken words and we make the most of our sense of hearing to grasp the meaning of all the sounds we hear in our daily life. All sounds are not equal. The whispering, sweet voice of girlfriend is obviously more pleasing to you than the shrill voice of your boss whom you dread. Can you say that the sound produced by a mynah is same as that made by a roaring lion? There are several components of a sound that determine its overall impact. These are intensity, pitch and tone and all these qualities decide how the sound will be perceived by others. In this article, we shall confine ourselves to differences between pitch and tone.
We know as students of physics, that sound is a wave that has amplitude which tell us about the energy of a sound. Higher the energy more is the amplitude. This is known as the intensity of the sound. More intensity makes us feel a sound louder. So if a sound is very loud, it means that it has more intensity. Intensity of sounds is measured in decibels. An airplane produces higher intensity sound (140 decibels); whispering produces low intensity sound (30 decibels)
Pitch is another quality that describes sound. It depends upon the frequency of the sound, and not its amplitude. Frequency is number of wavelengths that fit into a unit of time. The unit of frequency is hertz. A thunder in the sky, though it is very loud has a frequency of 50 Hz, whereas a person blowing a whistle may produce a frequency of 1000 Hz. The human ear is capable to hear sounds in a frequency range known as audible range, while some animals have the capability to hear sounds in the ultrasonic range. Dog whistles produce sounds at a very high pitch, which we cannot hear, but dogs can, as their ears can process very high frequencies.
Have you ever wondered why some sounds are felt pleasant, while others are perceived as harsh and unpleasant? When you strike the stretched wire of a guitar with your finger, it vibrates producing a sound. With whole string vibrating, we hear the lowest pitch known as fundamental. There are parts of string producing many pitches. Overtones are frequencies higher than fundamental, while frequencies that are in whole number multiples of fundamental are called harmonics. Two times the fundamental produce second harmonic while four times the fundamental produces fourth harmonic. Fundamental frequency is termed as first harmonic.
When a sound has more harmonics, it appears to be fuller to our ears. Different sounds have different overtones, and thus, every individual in this world has a different voice.
Difference Between Pitch and Tone
• Pitch and tone are two different components of sound
• Pitch depends upon the frequency of the sound, and higher frequency sound is obviously felt as shrill than a sound with low frequency such as a cloud thunder
• Tone is another attribute of as sound that helps us differentiate between different voices.
• Every person’s voice has many overtones containing harmonics. The tone of a sound determines the quality of sound, and this gives us a clue as to why we like the voice of famous singers.
Desiree Lourens says
thanks for the definition.
Inky O. says
I loved this so much, it helped to clarify things.